Victor Fonseca, Ferreira da Silva:

Portugal: “Sun is burning apples and pears on the trees”

The hot weather conditions are taking a very negative toll on the fruit production in Portugal. Victor Fonseca, director of Ferreira da Silva, explained that the moisture and lack of cold hours hampered the flowering of the trees during the spring, and, to make matters worse, now the summer sun is burning the fruit.

The company Ferreira da Silva is devoted to the production, export and import of fruits. "We produce apples and pears and import apples, pears, citrus fruits, pineapples, bananas... all kinds of fruits," said Fonseca. Besides exporting, the company also supplies the domestic market. "We export more pears, because we have more volume, but the local market takes more than 50% of our fruits. We have a good market in Portugal and it is very important for us," he added.

The producer acknowledged that the season has so far been far from ideal. "For some products, it has been good, depending on the quality. There have been some issues with the quality of peppers, grapes and kiwis." He explains that the market has not been very good, and that they have produced 30% fewer apples than in 2015 because of the weather. As for pears, production has also been low, just like in the previous year.

"We have had a bad spring. After the flowering, bad weather arrived, the flowers fell and we were left without fruit." Now that there are finally some fruits on the trees, the sun is burning some of them. "In mid-July, we had about 38 to 40 degrees Celsius, and last week we reached such temperatures again. We tried to set up protection, but the sun is very strong," laments the producer.

The apple and pear season usually lasts from August to April, but this year it has been delayed. During the rest of the year, the company imports them, in addition to growing other products (grapes, kiwis, melons, watermelons, bananas and pineapples), spread throughout most of the year.

The company supplies its products mainly to Portugal and Spain, because of their proximity, but it also works with other countries in Europe, the Middle East and South America. However, for the past two years, its bad situation, caused by the weather conditions, have not allowed it to open new markets, at least not until the situation improves. Since it is a weather-related issue, they cannot do anything to fix it; they can only wait.

Fonseca perceives that the production of other European countries is also hampered by the weather. "Spain also has fewer apples and pears, and I think that the Netherlands has recorded a 30% drop. I have no information about what’s going on in France and Italy, but everyone else I know has less fruit." According to the producer, this situation is causing prices go up. "Our main apple variety is the Royal Gala and our biggest pear is the Rocha; we are the only ones producing it in Europe and we have less, so of course the price will be higher. We are unable to meet the needs of all customers, it is impossible."

"I do not know what we can expect; we have the feeling that the climate is changing. It is less cold in winter, and pears and apples need cold. We need 700 hours of cold and, right now, we are only getting half. Furthermore, we have problems with the flowers, because we don’t have low temperatures," he concludes.

More information:
Victor Fonseca
Ferreira da Silva - Importação e Exportação, S. A.
Vale da Murta, 2560-048 A-dos-Cunhados, Portugal
T: (+351) 261 980 350
F: (+351) 261 980 368

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